All those Flash Gordon-style death ray machines come to mind in this report on laser-generated nuclear fusion, at EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Researchers in the US say they have made a crucial breakthrough towards achieving laser fusion and that they expect to generate the conditions for a sustained nuclear reaction by the end of the year.
These claims are backed up by the publication of the first science results from the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and among the highlights was a new world record for laser intensity.
[disinfo ed.: The National Ignition Facility, the world's largest laser system, located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was featured in the BBC broadcast "Horizon" hosted by physicist Brian Cox. Here is the NIF portion of the program, which was entitled "Can We Make A Star On Earth?"]
Four times over budget and five years behind schedule, the NIF project has been under pressure to deliver since it finally began its operations last March at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California. NIF’s main goal is to focus a number of lasers capable of generating 180 MJ of energy – more than 60 times more energetic than any machine in existence – onto a hollow sphere 2 mm in diameter made of beryllium.
By dumping all of this energy into a tiny volume, the aim is to try to squeeze together isotopes of deuterium and tritium contained inside the sphere. This could then spark “ignition”, which is the point at which the deuterium and tritium undergo sustained nuclear fusion that produces excess energy…
[continues at EnvironmentalResearchWeb]